Emily and I decided to take our life (or at least the possibility of our fingers being sliced off) into our hands, and try out a disability ice-skating session at Deeside Leisure Centre recently. I appreciate you don’t all live in this area, but I wanted to encourage you to search this out locally. It’s not something I would have given a second thought to, presuming that it wouldn’t be something Emily could access and that standing up on blades would be impossible for her. After being encouraged by a friend we decided to give it a go….(beware of the occasional bad ice-related references).
An amazing sight greeted us rink-side, children and adults whizzing around on penguins, bananas, in wheelchairs and Maclaren Majors. At this point I started to relax a bit, although still really unsure how this would work out…Emily usually either launches into something new with gusto or goes into a mini meltdown and can’t be persuaded. Hoping for the former at this stage as it was flipping freezing (!).
Apologies in advance for photo quality, was attempting to remain upright and balanced in uncomfortable, high footwear…
Emily was given some cool (!) bobskates to wear, which were almost flat and meant she could walk in them with help to the side of the rink. At this point in time it wouldn’t be a possibility for her to walk in regular ice-skates, so the bobskates are a fab way to be introduced to the sensation of being on the ice if you haven’t got the balance and co-ordination needed for ice-skates.
There were lots of coaches and helpers around, and a banana was brought over. We helped Emily onto the ice and straight onto the banana (all going well so far). One of the coaches then took Emily around the rink and luckily her adrenaline junkie side kicked in and she loved it.
2 people can sit on the bananas and be pushed with ease by someone wearing ice-skates. The bobskates meant Emily’s feet moved with ease on the ice. Children or adults who were confident to stand on the ice could use a penguin balance aid.
Unfortunately I eventually had to say goodbye to terra firma and take my turn on the ice. As you may be able to tell I held on with a firm grip and made sure not to stand up too straight or move too quickly. We did get up speed a couple of times but none of the circling and whizzing business Emily enjoyed with the coach. Our only hairy moment was Emily deciding to disembark from the banana mid-whizz but all was rescued from disaster.
I would really urge you to enquire at your local rink or with your local disability sport officer about disability sessions, we can’t wait to go back and have another go at an activity I never in a million years thought would be something Emily could try and love. No matter what your level of ability there will be a way to get you on the ice. The sessions are much quieter than an open skating session and the loud music is turned off. The whole family can join in and enjoy a bit of chilly freedom.
The session was £5 for a 45 minute session, free entry for a carer, and no skate-hire charges. Physical access to Deeside Leisure Centre and the ice rink is very good and there is a new café which is also accessible. Plenty of disabled spaces close to the entrance, and disabled toilet facilities. The nearest Changing Places facilities are in Holywell Leisure Centre (CH8 7UZ) or venues in Chester including The Storyhouse and Grosvenor Park. Unfortunately both of these venues are at least 15 minutes away.
So whizz on down, and via blades, bobskates, ice-skates, wheels, penguins or even a banana – get yourself onto the ice!!!